- Says cases still high at 72,000 deaths annually
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), a non-profit organisation on health issues founded by the wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, has expressed worry over the poor level of attention and awareness on cancer in Nigeria despite the high number of cancer causing deaths recorded yearly in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WBFA, Mrs. Amy Oyekunle, at the Nigeria Cancer Alliance Meeting in Abuja, said that the poor attention is a leading cause of cancer deaths. Oyekunle advocated that Nigeria needs to urgently give cancer the attention it deserves, adding that the needed attention will boost awareness and information on cancer, thereby reducing cases of cancer.
“According to World Health Organization, WHO, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. In Nigeria, the statistics is equally bad, as 72,000 people die from cancer in Nigeria every year. Also, many people present their cancer at a very late stage, and this can be prevented if they get the proper attention and information from the beginning,” she said.
Oyekunle explained that the Cancer Alliance Meeting was borne out of the need to create a better ecosystem for cancer care.
“We felt that it is necessary to bring together the different players working on cancer to create an effective strategy on handling cancer care, basically from creating awareness, nutrition, and the auto-palliative care of cancer.
“The Cancer Alliance essentially combines different partners from civil societies, government, research and academic institutions, and those working in the field of cancer in Nigeria. The meeting also hopes to create a proper structure of alliance to ensure cancer gets the attention it deserves” she explained.
The CEO also lamented that the lack of fund to treat patients and total lack of equipment in hospitals, which is worrisome and needs to be looked into.
In the same vein, Dr. Fraser Karua General Manager of Amref Enterprise noted that the biggest problem of cancer across Sub Saharan Africa is the lack of early diagnosis screening and treatment.
Karua stressed that it is critical for communities to give early education on preventive measures.
Also speaking, representative of Takeda, Dr. Susanne Weissbaecker, explained that cancer is not a death sentence as certain types of cancers can be cured if diagnosed early.
“The alliance will try to improve diagnosis, and increase awareness of patients to catch them as early as possible before the cancer gets worse. We want to increase the chances of every one while enhancing diagnostics in an early stage” she said.